Sitting in the static park is what is believed to be the first Learjet Special Mission Aircraft (SMA) operating in the region.

"We contract with the UAE navy to provide them with an SMA that provides them with four main elements – threat simulation, target-towing, VIP operations and medevac duties," says Fraser Currie, FR Aviation's regional sales director.

The Learjet 35 has been in the region for two years but only became fully operational in the SMA role in September when underwing pods and internal consoles were added to provide a range of threat simulations. The show is the first time it has been publicly displayed.

"It's the first high-speed target-towing aircraft purpose-built for that and threat simulation in the region," he adds.

"The pilots are all existing UAE armed forces personnel," says Currie. "We're basically providing training to allow the UAE navy to become self-sufficient."

"We would detach out here, for several weeks at a time, a training, console operators and engineering support and provide training for existing navy personnel."

The aircraft is normally based in Abu Dhabi as a UAE navy asset – the service's first fixed-wing aircraft, says Currie – and flies five days a week. About 50% of its time is spent on special mission tasks and the remainder on pilot training and VIP duties.

FRA is no stranger to the SMA role, operating 16 Dassault Falcon 20s to provide similar services for the UK Royal Navy.

Source: Flight Daily News